Internship Abroad in Cape Town

Taylor Reinke Start Date: May 16, 2021 - End Date: Aug 3, 2021
  • Cape Town, South Africa

My Travel Story

by: Taylor Reinke Start Date: May 16, 2021 - End Date: Aug 3, 2021
This summer, I am shadowing as a Mechanical Engineering intern in Cape Town, South Africa. I am working at a surfboard company that improves sustainability using a bio-epoxy. Because of this, all the surfboards recieve a Sustainable Surf Level One Ecoboard certification.

With every surfboard that uses this epoxy, less greenhouse gases are emitted. In addition, it provides the opportunity for old surfboards to be recycled and reused so that they do not go to waste. 

While I am in Cape Town, I hope to give back to the community, to pour into people, and to learn and appreciate the rich and vibrant history of South Africa. I may be helping with surfboards this summer, but I hope that opportunities like this will lead to more and more discoveries about sustainability in the future.  

This internship is a way for me to give back to a local business by donating my time to them. It is also a chance to learn from and give back to a community of people. I hope to grow from the experience and become more aware of others people's needs with every passing day. 
  • Cape Town, South Africa


  • Cape Town Family

    Cape Town Family
    I realized that throughout all my blog posts, I have not taken the time to show you the people I get to live life with down here in Cape Town. I am in South Africa through a program called VAc, and there are many young people doing internships at different sites through this same program. While many people work at clinics in the area, there are also film internships, finance internships, and many other opportunities. But along the way, we have gone from random strangers to family.

    There are too many memories to recap here and I do not have enough words in my vocabulary to express how much these people have changed and impacted me, but I will do my best to remember some memories. You may not know the people behind these names, but I wish you did. They provide such a rich variety of ideas and passions and laughter and preferences.

    I have gone to local markets with Yazan and Nicole. I have seen elephants in the morning light with Grant. I have danced on a boat with Catrina. Bogue cooked a steak for us. Indigo made the best muffins in Cape Town. I would walk from anywhere in Obz to get one fresh. I have baked bread with Alexandra and Olivia. Kholi has taught me Xhosa words. Fangirling over Whataburger with Cade is one of my favorite memories. I jumped off a bridge (and bounced back) with Lara. I surfed in the Indian Ocean with Lexi. I made feta and roasted tomato pasta with Abby and Christina. Olivia and I went for a sunrise hike and listened to worship music at the top. I went for a late night canola oil run to a sketchy grocery store with Nicole and Gerbrand and Grant. I had a deep conversation with Grace amidst a potluck nacho night. Ellie forced everyone to eat the cake I made even though it was briefly a floor-cake. I learned I am a Capricorn from Sadie. The L7 girls have eaten many a meal at Kloof Street House. I have gone for sunset trail runs with Liv and Olivia. I have danced my heart out with Luke and Claudia. Kailey did my makeup for me. Braden successfully made queso for the group. I talked to Nicole about pizza rolls on the summit of Devil's Peak. I have hiked more than 50k with Gerbrand, and learned some Dutch phrases along the way. Robert and I cheffed up some amazing cannolis. Jude blew my mind when she played a trumpet without a trumpet. Tony showed me how to play pool. I have giggled on the beach with Ashley. I have listened enraptured to one of Gigi's stories. I described a really difficult hike as a "steep incline" to Kailey and Liv and Innes and G, and we all made it to the top of the mountain for sunset. Ben has played jazz music that makes me appreciate life more. Marius made crepes for everyone. Nikhil Uber Eats-ed a veggie burger before a sunrise hike. I went for a late night literal run to get Oreos from a local mart with G. Chiara has opened up her apartment as a safe space to rest for me. I have played games with kids in Khayelitsha with Caitlin.

    There are so so many memories that will forever remind me of Cape Town and I cannot begin to recount them all. I hope this little memory nuggets give you a glimpse of my time here in Cape Town.
  • Safety & Perception

    Safety & Perception
    Overall during my time in South Africa, I have felt very safe. So long as I have someone to walk with me back to my apartment when it is night out or a group to hike with, I never have to seriously worry about my safety. However, it is much different than what I am used to back home. In comparison with the great BLESSING of safety there is in both College Station and Fort Collins, where I could run AT NIGHT, BY MYSELF, with HEADPHONES, and not have to worry or glance behind me every minute or so, South Africa is place where you must be much more aware of your surroundings. The moment your awareness lapses, something will most likely happen. So while I do not feel unsafe, I feel the pressing importance of being aware more than I did back home. Having to think about riding a bus by myself and the implications that could have is something that did not cross my mind before. I did not have to look behind me when walking through the streets alone. I did not have to think about which areas of town I was going through to make sure the route is safe. I did not have to think about Uber drivers being unable to go through some parts of town for their security. Although it seems like I have much more to think about in terms of safety, I am actually in such a safe part of town, and generally have no reason to legitimately fear for my safety.

    Safety and general lack of violence is such a blessing that I did not even realize that I was constantly given. It is mind blowing to realize this - especially in a place that is still relatively VERY safe in comparison to some other locations not too far from where I live. As most of you may be aware of because of the recent world news, there has been an increase of chaos, looting, and taxi violence in the last week. I feel that if this were to happen in the States, it would be all you would hear about - people’s concern for safety, what their plan is to address it, etc. etc. But here, it is talked about only in the sense that we ask our coworkers to make sure “Will you make it home safe today?” When the answer is “yes, I should,” then we move on. My gut reaction is “WAIT, but are you going to be SAFE? Are you SURE?” For me, I find myself longer to GUARANTEE my safety, to not move forward with a plan unless I feel that it is safe and not consider something if it has an element of danger. But for most people, safety is never a 100% guarantee anyway, so it is just a part of life. For me, I once again go to “how can I prevent or lower this risk?” but for many, this is just a factor of life. So while the most recent increase in taxi violence is sad and frightening and it has been discussed recently, it has been surprising to me how little it is talked about in comparison with what I would expect.